"CNN's former senior tech correspondent shares her front-row seat on the rise of Facebook, Twitter, and other new-media empires—and the geeks turned entrepreneurs who founded them."—People
An unflinching, era-defining story of self-discovery and breaking barriers by award-winning investigative reporter Laurie Segall.
In 2008, 23-year-old Laurie Segall was a newly minted assistant at CNN and was living in an East Village walk-up apartment. As Wall Street was crashing down, Segall began discovering a group of scrappy misfits who were rising from the ashes of the recession to change the world: the tech entrepreneurs.
A misfit herself, Segall gained entrance to New York’s burgeoning tech scene, with its limitless cash flow and parties populated by geeks-turned-billionaires. Back at the news desk, she rose through the ranks at CNN, while these entrepreneurs went from minnows to sharks, building companies that would become our democracy and our social fabric: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Uber, Tinder.
Over the course of a decade, Laurie Segall became one of the first reporters to give airtime to many of these founders—from Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) to Jack Dorsey (Twitter) to Kevin Systrom (Instagram) to Travis Kalanick (Uber)—while tracking their evolution and society’s cultural shift in the CNN startup beat she created. By the end of her tenure at CNN, she had become its on-air senior technology correspondent and had witnessed the rise of second-wave tech, from the boom to the “complicated years” to the backlash, as her misfits emerged as some of the world’s most influential leaders.
A coming-of-age narrative chronicling an era transformed, Special Characters is, at its core, a young woman’s origin story—in love, in career, and in life—and an account of the humans behind the companies that have shaped our modern society. Filled with emotional heft and razor-sharp observations, Segall’s empowering memoir is a richly rendered backstage pass to the tech bubble that reimagined the ethos of our social, political, and cultural experience.
“Fans of Brotopia or anyone who wants a backstage pass to Zuckerberg and some of the biggest co.’s of our time, you’ll devour this.” —The Skimm
Segall, a former CNN senior tech correspondent, reveals the ups and downs of her time interviewing tech giants, disrupters, and entrepreneurs in her plucky if faltering debut. From her first day as a news assistant at CNN in 2008 to her rapid rise as an on-air talent covering start-ups and tech, Segall describes how meeting the "scrappy, optimistic, out-of-the-box entrepreneurs" on her beat allowed her to gain a stronger understanding of herself and her ambitions to find "authenticity in a filtered world." However, she attempts to position herself as an underdog, despite working for a media brand whose name opens doors for her: even with the "lowly status as a production assistant," simply saying "Laurie from CNN" landed her an interview with Twitter cofounder Biz Stone. Segall admits that she struggled with vulnerability at the same time her career had her "asking people to open up, to reveal their hardest truths in an effort to regain their power." But what she claims to be her most significant battles "my inability to fit in... celebrating the strength of others instead of myself" hold little weight when she fails to dig deeper beyond stories of spilled coffee and embarrassing text conversations. Unfortunately, this hero's journey lacks a payoff. Agent: Becky Sweren, Aevitas Creative Management.